2012 Kia Rio Review
2012 Kia Rio Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Stylish design inside and out
- plenty of standard and optional features
- long warranty coverage
- feels bigger than it is.
- Engine can get noisy.
The 2012 Kia Rio is fully redesigned.
Thanks to a redesign for 2012, the Kia Rio stands as a smart pick for small-car shoppers.
When you hear the word "Rio," you might think of the city or perhaps Duran Duran. But would "Kia Rio" pop into your head? Probably not. For many years, the Rio has been a pretty forgettable little car. But for 2012, this should change, as the subcompact Kia is thankfully as far removed from last year's model as parachute pants and feathered hair are from today's fashions.
Redesigned for 2012, the Kia Rio has been improved in virtually every way. As with Kia's other recently redesigned models, style is a priority. Inside and out, the Rio has a bold look, especially in this segment of small cars. The new Rio is larger than before, which translates to more passenger and cargo room.
Under the hood is a new 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with direct-injection technology. With 138 horsepower on tap and the promise of up to 37 mpg EPA highway, the Rio is one of the most powerful and efficient cars in its segment: on paper. In the real world, performance proves to be better than average while fuel economy is about average..
There's no debating the Rio's value, however. As is Kia's customary practice, the Rio combines a low starting price with a fairly generous standard features list. The Rio also reflects Kia's recent efforts at improved quality, notably in a nicely trimmed cabin that would be at home in a more expensive car. But with so many upscale features available as options (navigation, leather seating and keyless ignition/entry, for instance), the price of a loaded Rio can approach that of a base Kia Optima.
There's no doubt that Kia now has a firm grasp on what most consumers are looking for, which would be styling, quality, performance and features. As a result, the 2012 Kia Rio is finally a front runner in a market segment that has seen a lot of improved vehicles lately. Other worthy choices include the Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit and the Hyundai Accent, which is mechanically very similar to the Rio. Your decision will likely come down to styling preferences, driving position, handling/ride dynamics or maximum cargo capacity. Back-to-back test-drives are recommended.
Performance & mpg
Every Rio is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 138 hp and 123 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the LX, with a six-speed automatic optional. Both the EX and SX come only with the six-speed automatic.
In Edmunds testing, a Rio SX did the 0-60 sprint in 9.7 seconds, a quick time for the subcompact segment. Fuel economy estimates stand at 28 mpg city/36 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined for the automatic, with 29/37/32 for the manual.
The 2012 Kia Rio comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and hill start assist. Unlike most rivals that have a front disc/rear drum brake setup, the Rio has disc brakes all around. This undoubtedly contributed to its strong braking performance, as the Rio SX came to a stop from 60 mph in just 119 feet -- a short distance for an economy car.
In government crash tests, the Rio received four out of five stars for overall protection, with four stars for frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection.
As we've only driven the sporty SX, these impressions pertain to that trim. With its firmer suspension tuning, the 2012 Kia Rio SX is a good choice for those who like feeling connected to their car. You may even have some fun behind the wheel. The SX's ride quality might be on the firm side for some drivers, but overall we like the way the Rio drives.
In the times of 500-plus-hp supercars, the 2012 Kia Rio's 138-hp output might sound paltry. Yet this sophisticated direct-injection four-cylinder pulls stronger than the power plants of its major competitors. Both the six-speed manual and the six-speed automatic transmissions make good use of that output, too. Under hard acceleration, the engine remains smooth but can get rather noisy.
The Rio's cabin boasts very good build and materials quality. Although there is a lot of hard plastic trim, it is nicely grained and doesn't scream economy car. Indeed, in the upper trims, features such as a soft-touch dash top, sliding center armrest and tasteful metallic accents give the impression that the Rio is a cut above what you'd expect in this class.
The climate and audio controls are easy to use, as is the optional navigation system. The Uvo voice-activated telematics system is another nice bonus, although we've found its voice recognition abilities aren't great and it isn't quite as intuitive to use as Ford's Sync system. Its accompanying electronic controls are much easier to use, however, even when operating more complicated functions like the iPod interface or optional navigation system.
The Rio also scores in the areas of space and comfort. Even tall drivers should be comfortable behind the available tilt-and-telescoping wheel, while the backseat offers a competitive amount of space. Count this as another subcompact that doesn't feel like a penalty box for its passengers.
The Rio's sleek styling does result in outward visibility that isn't quite as good as some competitors' -- especially for the sedan. However, the available rearview camera is a rare feature in this class and helps greatly while parallel parking. When it comes time to carry extra items, the sedan has a 13.7-cubic-foot trunk, a respectable figure. With its rear seats lowered, the hatchback can hold up to 49.8 cubic feet.
2012 Kia Rio models
The 2012 Kia Rio is available in both sedan and hatchback body styles, each with four doors. Trim levels are base LX, nicely equipped EX and sporty SX.
The LX comes with 15-inch steel wheels, power/heated mirrors, air-conditioning, a trip computer, a tilt steering wheel, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface. An optional Power package provides power windows and door locks with keyless entry.
The EX comes with all the above and adds a chrome grille frame, upgraded audio speakers, Bluetooth, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a center console with sliding armrest, upgraded upholstery and metallic cabin accents. An optional EX Convenience package adds 15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, power-folding outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, a soft-touch dash top, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and Kia's "Uvo" voice-activated interface for electronics features.
The SX adds to all the above 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, dual exhaust tips, LED front accent/rear taillights and an upgraded gauge cluster display. An optional SX Premium package adds a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, leather seating, heated front seats and a navigation system.
Read what other owners think about the Used 2012 Kia Rio.
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
2012 Kia Rio SX Sedan
2012 Kia Rio SX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A)
I needed to get a new daily commuter car as I drive over 70 highway miles daily. Look at what you get from Toyota, Honda, Nissan in this same segment and compare all the features. I went to each dealer, Toyota had a sticker price increase of $1500 "market adjusted value" on the Corolla! Nonsense! I wanted something that would get good gas mileage (+36mpg), holds a couple golf bags and … more in the trunk, and if needed, my family of 4 when we're not in the sweet minivan. This car has extreme value at a low price... less than $18K out the door. You can electronically fold in the heated side mirrors, which have LED turn signals. The front lights have LED markers and the rear tail lights are all LED. Engine has the most horsepower in the segment and is direct injection technology. Big 17 inch wheels on the ground, USB port on radio which is built by Microsoft UVO and I could go on and on for the features. You will see many of these features only in higher segment cars. Japan auto makers are becoming dated fast with their features and technology and are overpriced for their value in today's market. KIA shares many of their platforms now with Hyundai and the quality of their build has dramatically improved with the RIO. I have been very satisfied for the first 1200 miles. If you are looking for good gas mileage, good trunk space, great features, LED lights aplenty, etc... do not overlook this car and forget completely about KIA in 2008. In 2012 they have transformed light years ahead of the competition.
5 out of 5 stars
RIO 5 Door SX Is Best In Class
2012 Kia Rio SX 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6A)
The 5 Door KIA RIO SX is clearly the best car in its class and the driving experience can only be described as pure fun. There are other competitors in this class that are better in one or two areas, but none have the overall combination of a terrific engine with an excellent 6 speed automatic transmission, lots of interior room, fantastic looks, an abundance of safety features, high … tech gadgets, nimble handling, and the best warranty in the industry. The RIO is extremely comfortable on long trips, which is unusual for a small car. Can you believe the outside mirrors are heated electronically and fold into the car with the touch of a button? And it has a rear view camera!
4.75 out of 5 stars
KIA Rio5 an Excellent & Fun Value
2012 Kia Rio LX 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6A)
Our 2012 KIA Rio5 is our second car. For around town use it is terrific - we get an overall 35 mpg. The five door is very usefu and the comfort is just fine. The styling is fine and the car really is fun to drive. We have a family car that is for trips but the Rio 5 is for everyday use. We could not find another vehicle for less money with a better warantry. The build quality is nice and … the red paint is beautiful - the cloth interior is nice - this is just the perfect second car for us.
4.75 out of 5 stars
2012 Kia Rio SX 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6A)
I drive a total of 60 miles a day to work and back home. I travel both on highway and city. I use the ECO feature when dealing with traffic and have on the average (depending on where I buy my gas) get 34mpg. I have noticed with lower grade stations, the perfomance is less. The pickup while using ECO is a bit regulated but with a quick click, you can turn it off and get the punch you … need to pull quickly ahead. I replaced this car with a 2007 PT Cruiser which had horrible gas milage. I find the instrument panel great with the RIO SX model and love the rear screen view due to the limited viewing of the rear window. I would definitely recommend the Rio to other buyers. It is fun to drive!
2012 Rio Highlights
- Combined MPG
- 32 MPG
- Cost to Drive
- 5 seats
- front wheel drive
- Engine Type
- 5 years / 60,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Rating4 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall4 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall4 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat4 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover11.6%
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More about the 2012 Kia Rio
More About This Model
This is a great time to be a compact car buyer. The cars in this class are more fuel-efficient than ever, have a greater list of premium features and are more fun to drive. And in the case of the 2012 Kia Rio, they even look better than ever. As we overheard someone say, compact cars are no longer a penalty box — now they are a box suite. Cars in this price range can even be ordered now with leather, heated seats, navigation and more.
When Kia's designers set out to redesign the Rio, they carried over nothing from the previous-generation car. The 2012 Kia Rio has undergone such an extensive overhaul that Kia even changed the font of the type in the "Rio" badge. The 2012 Rio is better-looking, more fuel efficient, fun to drive, and best of all offers a great value to consumers in need of a compact car.
The Kia Rio also matches up favorably to its competition. The Honda Fit has more cargo room, but less engine power. The Chevrolet Sonic matches the Rio's power and adds more torque, but you'll have to pay extra for the optional turbo engine to get the added benefits. The Ford Fiesta is another solid pick in this class, but if you are interested in a navigation system, the Rio has a traditional touchscreen setup while the Fiesta relies on voice-guided directions.
Used 2012 Kia Rio Overview
The Used 2012 Kia Rio is offered in the following submodels: Rio Hatchback, Rio Sedan. Available styles include LX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A), EX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A), LX 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6A), EX 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6A), SX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A), SX 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6A), LX 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M), and LX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6M). Pre-owned Kia Rio models are available with a 1.6 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 138 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2012 Kia Rio comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic.
What's a good price on a Used 2012 Kia Rio?
Price comparisons for Used 2012 Kia Rio trim styles:
- The Used 2012 Kia Rio EX is priced between $9,990 and$14,990 with odometer readings between 24912 and100342 miles.
- The Used 2012 Kia Rio LX is priced between $12,599 and$15,998 with odometer readings between 39036 and84712 miles.
Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.
Which used 2012 Kia Rios are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Kia Rio for sale near. There are currently 9 used and CPO 2012 Rios listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $9,990 and mileage as low as 24912 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 Kia Rio.
Can't find a used 2012 Kia Rios you want in your area? Consider a broader search.
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Should I lease or buy a 2012 Kia Rio?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.
Check out Kia lease specials
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